A “Parents’ Night Off” swimming fundraiser the day after Thanksgiving is kicking off a major fundraising drive to keep the non-profit Evergreen Pool in White Center open.
For a $30 donation parents can drop off kids this Friday, Nov. 29, from 6 to 9 p.m., and then go shopping or on a date.
More than 3,800 children – and adults – have learned to swim at the Evergreen Community Aquatics Center pool since it reopened under new management three years ago.
“That includes a good number of kids who are served by a good swimming program in a community with limited youth recreation opportunities,” notes General Manager Joel Schweiger.
This 44-year-old facility, long managed by King County, has been operated “pretty close to breaking even for three years” by the WhiteWater Aquatics Management, Schweiger says.
But “pretty close” doesn’t balance the ledger – especially those utility and related costs necessary for operating the aquatics center that were unavoidably higher from the time the pool reopened until energy improvements could be made.
These improvements are making a significant positive difference. Energy costs have been reduced by 40 percent with the grant-funded purchase of a new boiler and a pool blanket to cover to cover the water and maintain temperature when the facility is closed.
In addition, new filters paid for with another grant and recently installed are reducing chemical purchases by 15 percent.
Still, $15,000 in outstanding utility billings and related expenses, most incurred before these upgrades were made, and have put the Evergreen pool on the brink again.
And if funds are not raised to pay these debts by mid-January the aquatic center will have to close – despite the fact it is busy almost all the time. Schweiger says the pool is filled to capacity when kids are out of school.
“The reality is that the pool’s costs of operating exceed revenue due to capacity, he adds. For example, kids who get free or reduced lunches at school also get swimming lessons free or at reduced cost.
“It’s important to find both immediate and long-term income to keep this pool open “because there’s not a lot of positive youth activities in White Center that are safe and fun.”
The non-profit group is continuing to work with King County, the City of Burien and the Highline School District to find resources as well as launching a corporate and personal giving campaign.